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Neuroscience

209 articles
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    What’s So Hard About Understanding Consciousness?

    We brought Antonio Damasio and Anil Seth together to share their insights into neuroscience’s big question.

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    I Feel, Therefore I Am

    Consciousness is a continuous conversation between the feeling body and the knowing mind.

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    Are Kids Ready for Virtual Reality?

    Will too much time in the virtual world impact how children develop in the real one?

  • We Are Beast Machines

    We understand conscious experiences only in light of our nature as living creatures.

  • The Trouble with Brain Scans

    An aspiring cognitive scientist faces the sketchy truth about fMRI.

  • That Is Not How Your Brain Works

    Forget these scientific myths to better understand your brain and yourself.

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    Why AI Lags Behind the Human Brain in Computational Power

    It might be more accurate to think of many of the brain’s 10 billion neurons as being deep networks, with five to eight layers in each one.

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    Neuroscience’s Existential Crisis

    We’re mapping the brain in amazing detail—but our brain can’t understand the picture.

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    The Accident That Led to Machines That Can See

    The beauty of this breakthrough is serendipity.

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    The Spiritual Consciousness of Christof Koch

    What the neuroscientist is discovering is both humbling and frightening him.

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    We Are Beast Machines

    We understand conscious experiences only in light of our nature as living creatures.

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    Weird Dreams Train Our Brains to Be Better Learners

    For many of us over the last year and more, our waking experience has, you might say, lost a bit of its variety. We spend more time with the same people, in our homes, and go to fewer places. Our stimuli these days, in other words, aren’t very stimulating. Too much day-to-day routine, too much […]

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    Why These Children Fell into Endless Sleep

    A neurologist makes an emotional visit to understand “resignation syndrome.”

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    The Hard Problem of Consciousness Has an Easy Part We Can Solve

    How does consciousness arise? What might its relationship to matter be? And why are some things conscious while others apparently aren’t? These sorts of questions, taken together, make up what’s called the “hard problem” of consciousness, coined some years ago by the philosopher David Chalmers. There is no widely accepted solution to this. But, fortunately, […]

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    Here’s Where Our Minds Sharpen in Old Age

    Fluid intelligence has several aspects, and aging affects them differently.

  • Neurons Unexpectedly Encode Information in the Timing of Their Firing

    A temporal pattern of activity observed in human brains for the first time may explain how we can learn so quickly.

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    Psychedelics Open a New Window on the Mechanisms of Perception

    Hallucinatory drugs may allow our brains to let go of prior beliefs.

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    My Lab Uses Ultrasound to Stimulate Unconscious Patients

    Ultrasound can be a neuromodulator—to increase or decrease the likelihood that neurons will fire. Exactly how this works remains unclear, but it likely results from the physical “shaking” of neurons.Illustration by Jackie Niam / Shutterstock A few years ago, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, I escaped the noisy midday hustle and bustle, ducking into […]

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    The English Professor Who Foresaw Modern Neuroscience

    Science and the humanities weren’t separate cultures to this critic.

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    The Trouble with Brain Scans

    An aspiring cognitive scientist faces the sketchy truth about fMRI.

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    The Link Between Bioelectricity and Consciousness

    “It’s really hard to define what’s special about neurons,” says Tufts molecular biologist Michael Levin. “Almost all cells do the things neurons do, just more slowly.”Illustration by jijomathaidesigners / Shutterstock Life seems to be tied to bioelectricity at every level. The late electrophysiologist and surgeon Robert Becker spent decades researching the role of the body’s […]

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    That Is Not How Your Brain Works

    Forget these scientific myths to better understand your brain and yourself.

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    I Am a Heroin User. I Do Not Have a Drug Problem

    Carl Hart says drug addiction is often distorted by scientists and the media.

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    Dreaming Is Like Taking LSD

    A new theory explains that dreaming opens our minds to unexplored possibilities.

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    Reading, That Strange and Uniquely Human Thing

    How we evolved to read is a story of one creative species.

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    Outwitting the Grim Reaper

    Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin on how to age successfully.

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    Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV

    Is memorizing a string of words a key to what makes the human brain unique?

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    Why Your Brain’s Sense of Time Is So Elastic

    Our sense of time may be the scaffolding for all of our experience and behavior, but it is an unsteady and subjective one, expanding and contracting like an accordion. Emotions, music, events in our surroundings and shifts in our attention all have the power to speed time up for us or slow it down. When […]

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    Are We Wired to Be Outside?

    A neuroscientist searches for the roots of feeling innately connected to nature.

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    Are the Brain’s Electromagnetic Fields the Seat of Consciousness?

    Some neuroscientists have long considered the brain’s oscillating electromagnetic fields to be interesting but merely “epiphenomenal” features of the brain—like a train whistle on a steam-powered locomotive.Illustration by Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock Christof Koch is a neuroscientist distinguished by his rock-solid scientific work and romantic yearning to understand consciousness. He recently closed an essay by […]

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    Our Mind-Boggling Sense of Smell

    How your brain identifies an aroma from its minute molecular traces is a marvel.

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    Your Brain Makes You a Different Person Every Day

    Our brains are wired for new sensations.

  • Reasons Revealed for the Brain’s Elastic Sense of Time

    Research finds that the subjective experience of time is linked to learning, thwarted expectations and neural fatigue.

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    The Neurons That Appeared from Nowhere

    How an accident led to what could be a medical revolution.

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    The Hard Problem of Breakfast

    How does it emerge from bacon and eggs?

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    Your Brain in Love

    Anthropologist Helen Fisher tells us what the biology of love is.

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    A Neuroscientist’s Theory of Everything

    Karl Friston takes us on a safari of his free-energy principle.

  • How Emotions Connect Your Body and Brain

    Inside a new theory of emotions that spotlights how the brain works.

  • In Brain Waves, Scientists See Neurons Juggle Possible Futures

    Faced with a decision, the brain weighs its options by bundling them into rapidly alternating cycles of brain waves.

  • Glial Brain Cells, Long in Neurons’ Shadow, Reveal Hidden Powers

    The glial cells of the nervous system have been eclipsed in importance by neurons for decades. But glia are turning out to be central to many neurological functions, including pain perception.

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    The Brain Cells That Guide Animals

    New evidence the neural rules of navigation are universal.

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    The Brain Cells That Guide Animals

    Virtual-reality experiments on fruit flies offer insight into how the brains of mammals, like us, might build maps of their world.Photograph by Tanya Wolff It may seem absurd to compare a tiny fruit fly’s brain to that of a majestic elephant. Yet it is the dream of many neuroscientists to find deep rules that very […]

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    An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience

    We’re mapping the brain in amazing detail—but our brain can’t understand the picture.

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    An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience

    We’re mapping the brain in amazing detail—but our brain can’t understand the picture.

  • Sleeping Brain Waves Draw a Healthy Bath for Neurons

    An organized tide of brain waves, blood and spinal fluid pulsing through a sleeping brain may flush away neural toxins that cause Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

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    Where Is My Mind?

    The rise and fall of the claustrum epitomizes the hunt for consciousness in the brain.

  • Your Brain Is On the Brink of Chaos

    Neurological evidence for chaos in the nervous system is growing.

  • Perceptions of Musical Octaves Are Learned, Not Wired in the Brain

    Singing experiments with residents of the Bolivian rainforest demonstrate how biology and experience shape the way we hear music.

  • How Women Came to Dominate Neuroendocrinology

    A scientific field founded by men is now mostly female.

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    The Implant That Can Control Your Brain

    This nanoscale device meshes seamlessly with your neurons.

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    Reason Won’t Save Us

    It’s time to accept the limits of how we think.

  • Your Brain Chooses What to Let You See

    Beneath our awareness, the brain lets certain kinds of stimuli automatically capture our attention by lowering the priority of the rest.

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    Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind

    Once we acquire language, we can live without it.

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    Consciousness Doesn’t Depend on Language

    We share the basic experience of life with all mammals.

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    When Words Fail

    Where our minds go when words let us down.

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    Human Emotions Are Personal Narratives

    Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux on what makes our brains unique.

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    In Brain’s Electrical Ripples, Markers for Memories Appear

    Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. It’s very easy to break things in biology,” said Loren Frank, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s really hard to make them work better.” Yet against the odds, researchers at the New York University School of Medicine reported earlier this summer that they had improved the […]

  • In Brain’s Electrical Ripples, Markers for Memories Appear

    Researchers found that elongating certain brain signals in rats improved their memory. The work revealed a new property to look out for in the hunt for “biomarkers” of learning.

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    Our Brains Tell Stories So We Can Live

    Without inner narratives we would be lost in a chaotic world.

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    Can Neuroscience Understand Free Will?

    Perhaps free will won’t forever be an issue philosophers mull over for a lifetime. Whatever the result, there’s always the ironic answer to the question of whether we have free will: “Of course we do. We have no choice.”Screengrab via The Good Place / YouTube In The Good Place, a cerebral fantasy-comedy TV series, moral […]

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    The Neural Similarities Between Remembering and Imagining

    The act of recalling something that happened to you looks very much like what happens when you imagine something new.Photograph by HBRH / Shutterstock Imagine a living room. Not yours or your friend’s or one you saw in a home makeover show, but one purely from your imagination—perhaps your ideal living room. You should have […]

  • Do Brains Operate at a Tipping Point? New Clues and Complications

    New experimental results simultaneously advance and challenge the theory that the brain’s network of neurons balances on the knife-edge between two phases.

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    Are Animal Experiments Justified?

    A neuroscientist confronts his anguish over experimenting on animals.

  • Goals and Rewards Redraw the Brain’s Map of the World

    Two new studies show that the brain’s navigation system changes how it represents physical space to reflect personal experience.

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    New Evidence for the Strange Geometry of Thought

    The brain may represent concepts in the same way that it represents space and your location, by using the same neural circuitry for the brain’s “inner GPS.”Sharon Mollerus / M.C. Escher / Flickr In 2014, the Swedish philosopher and cognitive scientist Peter Gärdenfors went to Krakow, Poland, for a conference on the mind. He was […]

  • Understanding the Brain with the Help of Artificial Intelligence

    Neurobiologists program a neural network for analyzing the brain’s wiring.

  • Stable Perception in the Adult Brain

    Neurons return to their original state after a change.

  • Surprising Network Activity in the Immature Brain

    Developing brain networks act locally to build globally.

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    Why the Brain Is So Noisy

    The surprising importance of spontaneous order and noise to how we think.

  • The Architecture of Odor Perception

    Olfactory glomeruli have a unique structure.

  • Orientation Without a Master Plan

    Human spatial memory is made up of numerous individual maps.

  • Gene Editing in the Brain Gets a Major Upgrade

    Scientists develop a new tool for precise genome editing in neurons.

  • New Neurons For the Brain

    Transplanted embryonic nerve cells can functionally integrate into damaged neural networks.

  • Brain on Autopilot

    How the architecture of the brain shapes its functioning.

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    Are There Bacteria in Your Brain?

    A surprising new result catches the attention of the neuroscience community.

  • From a Baby’s Cry to Goethe’s Faust

    A model of how human speech develops.

  • Brainwaves Encode the Grammar of Human Language

    The relative timing of brainwaves encodes the structure of a sentence.

  • Learning to Read in Your 30s Profoundly Transforms the Brain

    The learning process leads to a reorganization that extends to deep brain structures.

  • Blame It on the Bossa Nova: How Music Changes Our Perception of Touch

    The sexier we perceive the music we are listening to, the more sensual we experience the contact—even if we know that we are touched by a robot instead of a person.

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    Insects and the Meaning of Sleep

    This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine. If you watch an exhausted baby carefully, you may be able to see gravity tug heavy eyelids down. Likewise, a sleeping honeybee’s usually perky antennae droop. This adorable sign of insect repose may seem unremarkable. But studying insect slumber may ultimately help solve some of sleep’s greatest mysteries, Charlotte Helfrich-Förster […]

  • No Cable Spaghetti in the Brain

    The brain is not relying on random-wiring, but self-organized neural networks for visual information processing.

  • First Evidence of Sleep in Flight

    Birds engage in all types of sleep in flight, but in remarkably small amounts.

  • How We Decide Where to Go

    Neuroscientists discover a mechanism for brain-wide communication when selecting a route toward a destination.

  • Seeing Sounds

    Researchers uncover molecular clues for synesthesia.

  • “We Are Visual Animals, Driven By Images”

    The head of the Max Planck Society discusses the science of creative visualization.

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    The Ethics of Consciousness Hunting

    How fMRI has become an ethical obligation.

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    How Women Came to Dominate Neuroendocrinology

    A scientific field founded by men is now mostly female.

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    The Neurology of Flow States

    Why time vanishes when you’re jamming.

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    What Time Feels Like When You’re Improvising

    The neurology of flow states.

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    How Brain Waves Surf Sound Waves to Process Speech

    Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. When he talks about where his fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology have taken a wrong turn, David Poeppel of New York University doesn’t mince words. “There’s an orgy of data but very little understanding,” he said to a packed room at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual […]

  • How Brain Waves Surf Sound Waves to Process Speech

    By paying more attention to behaviors, and not just the activity of neurons, two researchers critical of most neuroscience learned how brains make sense of spoken language.

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    Why Some Sports Fans Have More Fun

    How mirror neurons affect the experience of fandom.

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    Your Brain’s Music Circuit Has Been Discovered

    The discovery that certain neurons have “music selectivity” stirs questions about the role of music in human life. Illustration by Len Small Before Josh McDermott was a neuroscientist, he was a club DJ in Boston and Minneapolis. He saw first-hand how music could unite people in sound, rhythm, and emotion. “One of the reasons it […]

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    Connections

    One hundred trillion. It’s about the size of the global money supply (called “broad money”), the bacterial count of the human microbiome, and the number of transistors in a supercomputer. It’s also approximately the number of neuronal connections in the human brain. Connection has an exponential, multiplicative power to create complexity. It’s where the meat […]

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    Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

    How massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI.

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    Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

    How massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI.

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    How the Fencing Reflex Connects Life and Death

    Primitive reflexes shepherd us into this world, and out.

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    How a Defense of Christianity Revolutionized Brain Science

    The statistics that grew out of Reverend Bayes’ apologetics became powerful enough to account for wide ranges of uncertainties. In brain science, it helps make sense of sensory input processes.Waiting For The Word / Flickr Presbyterian reverend Thomas Bayes had no reason to suspect he’d make any lasting contribution to humankind. Born in England at […]

  • Brains Cling to Old Habits When Learning New Tricks

    Using a brain-computer interface, scientists are beginning to learn why learning is hard.

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    The Surprising Relativism of the Brain’s GPS

    How new data is transforming our understanding of place cells.

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    The Surprising Relativism of the Brain’s GPS

    How new data is transforming our understanding of place cells.

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    Why Teens Plea Guilty to Crimes They Didn’t Commit

    In 1978, 18-year-old Roy Watford confronted a fateful decision. No, it wasn’t which college to attend—it was whether to plead guilty, while believing himself innocent, to the charge of raping a 12-year-old girl. His grandfather didn’t want him to risk a jury sending him to prison for life, so he caved, plead guilty, and received […]

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    Unhappiness Is a Palate-Cleanser

    Why it’s impossible to always be happy.

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    Why Happiness Is Hard to Find—in the Brain

    Talking blobology with a neuroimaging researcher.

  • With Strategic Zaps to the Brain, Scientists Boost Memory

    Stimulating part of the cortex as needed during learning tasks improves later recall. The finding reveals more about the brain’s memory network and points toward possible therapies.

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    Antonio Damasio Tells Us Why Pain Is Necessary

    The neuroscientist explains why feelings evolved.

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    A Brainless Breakthrough in Neuroscience

    Researchers recorded the activity of every neuron in a hydroid and correlated it with its behavior—a major conceptual and experimental breakthrough that might allow scientists to better understand how interactions among neurons control behavior.Photograph by Corvana / Wikicommons Rafael Yuste thinks neuroscientists have been looking at the brain too close. “It’s just like a TV […]

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    Why Curiosity Can Be Both Painful and Pleasurable

    The emerging neurology of one of our most human characteristics.

  • Mini-Brains Go Modular

    To create a good living replica of the human brain, your best hope may be to let “organoid” components assemble it for you.

  • The Paradox of the Elephant Brain

    With three times as many neurons, why doesn’t the elephant brain outperform ours?

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    How Japanese Floating Illusions Reverse-Engineer What We See

    The Arais do not merely dissect illusions, but can generate them, taking an image that looks boringly normal and making subtle changes, to color and contrast, to fool our brains. If you don’t know how something works, break it. Science is built on creative destruction: Much of what neuroscientists know of the brain, they know […]

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    Why Your Brain Hates Other People

    And how to make it think differently.

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    It’s Not Romantic Anymore to Say That Plants Have Brain-like Systems

    Last month, when the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, presided over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, he gave a speech that would go viral. In it, he rebuked the South’s long-nurtured tendency—expressed in slogans like, “Heritage, not hate”—to romanticize the Confederacy. “We shouldn’t romanticize Confederate monuments,” read a recent letter […]

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    When Neurology Becomes Theology

    A neurologist’s perspective on research into consciousness.

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    Daredevil’s Powers Are More Realistic Than You Think

      In an early episode of Daredevil, Netflix’s series about Marvel Comic’s blind superhero, there’s a telling scene in which the crime-fighting protagonist tends to an injured friend. Although he lost his eyesight in a traffic accident as a boy, Daredevil can nevertheless perceive her wounds. From across his apartment, he senses that a cut […]

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    Stop Saying the Brain Learns By Rewiring Itself

    Most neuroscientists accept that the brain computes by modifying its synapses, the links between neurons. On this view, the brain learns because experience molds it, rather than because experience implants facts. But experience does implant facts. We all know this, because we retrieve and make use of them throughout the day.Illustration by Gary Waters / […]

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    Is Consciousness Fractal?

    Our subconscious love for fractals may tell an evolutionary story.

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    What Do Blind People Actually See?

    To try to understand what it might be like to be blind, think about how it “looks” behind your head.Photograph by charnsitr / Shutterstock In 2004 Peter König made a special belt: one that always vibrated on the side of it facing north. Put on the belt and face north, and it would vibrate in […]

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    Is There Awareness Behind Vegetative States?

    The answer to a simple question may show if someone’s really “home.”

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    The Spiritual, Reductionist Consciousness of Christof Koch

    What the neuroscientist is discovering is both humbling and frightening him.

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    Ingenious: Lisa Feldman Barrett

    Inside a new theory of emotions that spotlights how the brain works.

  • Feelings: What Are They and How Does the Brain Make Them?

    Do animals share our capacity to feel conscious emotions?

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    How Should Society Judge a Defendant with a Brain Tumor?

    After a visit from one of his patients in March, 1966, the psychiatrist Maurice Heatly noted, “This massive, muscular youth seemed to be oozing with hostility as he initiated the hour with the statement that something was happening to him and he didn’t seem to be himself.” That patient was Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old former […]

  • The Outer Limits of Reason

    A look at paradoxes in language.

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    Time Is Contagious

    How to control the subjective experience of time.

  • My Personal Hero: Robert Sapolsky on Rudolf Virchow

    Germany, 1865. A man, wealthy and powerful, gets into an argument with a colleague who calls him out for being the habitual liar that he is. Enraged, he challenges his accuser to a duel. The challenger has a military background and is no stranger to weapons and dueling. The challenged, a meek physician scientist, has […]

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    My Personal Hero: Robert Sapolsky on Rudolf Virchow

    Germany, 1865. A man, wealthy and powerful, gets into an argument with a colleague who calls him out for being the habitual liar that he is. Enraged, he challenges his accuser to a duel. The challenger has a military background and is no stranger to weapons and dueling. The challenged, a meek physician scientist, has […]

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    What Sea Slugs Taught Us About Our Brain

    The simple nerve cells of sea creatures helped scientists fathom human memory.

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    Why Abstract Art Stirs Creativity in Our Brains

    Are art and science of distinctly different cultures? The former often seems fixated on human experience, the latter on physical processes. In his most recent book, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures, published this year, the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel argues that such a separation no longer exists. The best-known […]

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    What to Do If You Get Seasick on Dry Land

    A new therapy holds hope for sufferers of Mal de Debarquement syndrome.

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    Why Neuroscientists Need to Study the Crow

    The neocortex is argued to be the seat of cognition, but crows don't have one.

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    Addicted to Anticipation

    What goes wrong in the brain chemistry of a gambling addict.

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    The Unique Neurology of the Sports Fan’s Brain

    Why we get off on the game—and are better off for it.

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    The Strange Brain of the World’s Greatest Solo Climber

    Alex Honnold doesn’t experience fear like the rest of us.

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    Noise Is a Drug and New York Is Full of Addicts

    We may complain about a defining feature of the city, but we also feed off it.

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    Yes, Your Brain Does Process Information

    Do you know what information is? No worries if you don’t. Clarity on the concept is apparently hard to come by. In a May cover story, New Scientist wondered, “What is information?” The answer: “a mystery bound up with thermodynamics” that “seems to play a part in everything from how machines work to how living […]

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    We Weren’t Designed to Appreciate Good Perfume

    Our sense of smell may have evolved to detect danger, not beauty.

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    Would You Have Any Cosmetic Neurology Done?

    Like some other futurists, Ray Kurzweil thinks the best way to avoid aging is to avoid biology altogether. With a sufficient understanding of the brain, he says, we’ll be able to upload our minds to (presumably non-organic) structures and become digitally immortal. This might sound plausible enough, if a bit speculative, since the pace of […]

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    Learning Chess at 40

    What I learned trying to keep up with my 4-year-old daughter at the royal game.

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    The Wisdom of the Aging Brain

    Tantalizing evidence suggests that brain activity shifts to increase wisdom as we age.

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    The Paradox of the Elephant Brain

    With three times as many neurons, why doesn’t the elephant brain outperform ours?

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    Your Brain’s Music Circuit Has Been Discovered

    Before Josh McDermott was a neuroscientist, he was a club DJ in Boston and Minneapolis. He saw first-hand how music could unite people in sound, rhythm, and emotion. “One of the reasons it was so fun to DJ is that, by playing different pieces of music, you can transform the vibe in a roomful of […]

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    Why Neuroscientists Need to Study the Crow

    The animals of neuroscience research are an eclectic bunch, and for good reason. Different model organisms—like zebra fish larvae, C. elegans worms, fruit flies, and mice—give researchers the opportunity to answer specific questions. The first two, for example, have transparent bodies, which let scientists easily peer into their brains; the last two have eminently tweakable […]

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    Love Is Like Cocaine

    From ecstasy to withdrawal, the lover resembles an addict.

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    Love Is Like Cocaine

    From ecstasy to withdrawal, the lover resembles an addict.

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    The Deep Space of Digital Reading

    Why we shouldn’t worry about leaving print behind.

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    How Poverty Changes Kids’ Brains

    Hill Street Studios/Getty Images When children grow up in poverty, their brains can take a different shape. That’s one of the stark and uncomfortable findings from the lab of Kimberly Noble, a pediatrician and cognitive neuroscientist at Teachers College, Columbia University. Noble has used MRI scans to study the brains of children and found that […]

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    Nothing Snowballs Online Like Fear

    How online fear feeds political smear campaigns, stock market rumors, and ISIS propaganda.

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    Here’s Why Most Neuroscientists Are Wrong About the Brain

    Most neuroscientists believe that the brain learns by rewiring itself—by changing the strength of connections between brain cells, or neurons. But experimental results published last year, from a lab at Lund University in Sweden, hint that we need to change our approach. They suggest the brain learns in a way more analogous to that of […]

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    Is There Awareness Behind Vegetative States?

    Imagine that a loved one, let’s say your brother, has suffered a serious brain injury. After languishing in a coma, he finally “emerges”—that is, he cycles between sleep and wakefulness, yanks his hand away when it’s pricked, is startled by loud noises, and so on. But it’s not clear that he’s ever truly awake; his […]

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    The Dreams of the Man Who Discovered Neurons

    Santiago Ramón y Cajal recorded his dreams to prove Freud wrong.

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    Read the Lost Dream Journal of the Man Who Discovered Neurons

    An exclusive look at the dreams Santiago Ramon y Cajal recorded to prove Freud was wrong.

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    The Neuron’s Secret Partner

    Glial cells are the brain’s architects, doctors, police, janitors, and gardeners.

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    Here’s Why Your Brain Seems Mostly Dormant

    The brilliant compromise between efficiency and ability in your head.

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    Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing

    Have you ever been walking in a dark alley and seen something that you thought was a crouching person, but it turned out to be a garbage bag or something similarly innocuous? Me too. Have you ever seen a person crouching in a dark alley and mistaken it for a garbage bag? Me neither. Why […]

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    Daredevil’s Powers Are More Realistic Than You Think

    In an early episode of Daredevil, Netflix’s new series about Marvel Comic’s blind superhero, there’s a telling scene in which the crime-fighting protagonist tends to an injured friend. Although he lost his eyesight in a traffic accident as a boy, Daredevil can nevertheless perceive her wounds. From across his apartment, he senses that a cut […]

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    The Big Problem With “Big Science” Ventures—Like the Human Brain Project

    The National Institutes of Health’s “Human Connectome Project” aims to elucidate the architecture of nerve fibers in the brain, as illustrated here. Patric Hagmann, Department of Radiology, University Hospital Lausanne (CHUV), Switzerland In 2005 neuroscientist Henry Markram embarked on a mission to create a supercomputer simulation of the human brain, known as the Blue Brain […]

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    Ingenious: David Krakauer

    The systems theorist explains what’s wrong with standard models of intelligence.

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    More Sex Talk from the Love Scientist

        Last month in my Nautilus interview with love scientist Helen Fisher, we had a good time parrying over the value of viewing sex and romance in the pixels of a brain scan. Usually, she says, her friends and acquaintances, as well as journalists, want to talk about “the basics.” Just the other day, […]

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    From Tackles to Tangles: Why Head Hits Wreck Some Athletes’ Brains

    Whole brain sections (top) and microscopic sections (bottom) illustrate the differences between the brains of a 65-year-old control subject (left) and John Grimsley (right), a long-time NFL player whose brain condition affected his behavior and who died in his 40s.BU CTE Center Steelers Pro Bowl center Mike Webster was never your typical meathead. During his […]

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    Ingenious: Helen Fisher

    Talking sex, brains, and commitment with the best-selling scientist of love.

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    Why Your Brain Hates Slowpokes

    The high speed of society has jammed your internal clock.

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    How Odd Behavior in Some Young Horses May Reveal a Cause of Autism

    By gently squeezing maladjusted foals, veterinary researcher John Madigan recreates the experience of traveling through the birth canal, lowering the levels of certain neurosteroids and “waking up” the young horses.Joe Proudman / UC Davis As a toxicologist at the University of California, Davis, Isaac Pessah focuses on how different molecules regulate human brain function and […]

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    The Most Dangerous Muse

    Parkinson’s disease gave her the gift of creativity.

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    Brain Damage Saved His Music

    After a chunk of his brain was removed, guitarist Pat Martino got his groove back.

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    Brain Damage Saved His Music

    After a chunk of his brain was removed, guitarist Pat Martino got his groove back.

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    These Are Their Brains on Silence

    How silence affects the scientists who study it.

  • Gross

    These Are Their Brains on Silence

    How silence affects the scientists who study it.

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    What to Do When Your Brain Insists You’re Always on a Boat

    Zvonimir Orec via Shutterstock   Last July, Chris Perry went on an Alaskan cruise with her family to celebrate her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. When she boarded the massive Norwegian Sun cruise ship, she felt “a little woozy and weird” from the boat’s gentle rocking, she remembers, but the sensation quickly faded. Perry didn’t feel […]

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    Ingenious: Christof Koch

    The neuroscientist tackles consciousness and the self.

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    How Your Brain Decides Without You

    In a world full of ambiguity, we see what we want to see.

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    We All Used to Be Geniuses

      To adults learning a second language, it hardly seems fair: As they stumble their way through conjugation drills, fret over grammar textbooks, and fill in worksheets on constructing subordinate clauses, their children sop up the language while finger painting at preschool. Within months, correct syntax pours itself out of the tykes’ mouths, involving no […]

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    A Mind That Unraveled DNA & Chased Consciousness

    In his most recent book, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist, Christof Koch wrote that he has known only one genius: Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule. “In a lifetime of teaching, working and debating with some of the smartest people on the planet, I’ve encountered brilliance and high achievement, but […]

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    San Francisco Is Smarter Than You Are

    The city is a big brain that can solve big problems.

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    MRIs of Careful People Can Predict When Bubbles Will Pop

    r.classen via Shutterstock In the 1630s, Holland was gripped by the world’s only known case of “tulip mania.” The intensely colored flowers were already a luxury item before then, but their prices leaped when tulips with flame patterned petals hit the market, and they continued rocketing to previously incomprehensible levels. The price for a single […]

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    What Do Blind People Actually See?

    To try to understand what it might be like to be blind, think about how it “looks” behind your head.

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    This Is Your Brain on Silence

    Contrary to popular belief, peace and quiet is all about the noise in your head.

  • Gross_HERO

    This Is Your Brain on Silence

    Contrary to popular belief, peace and quiet is all about the noise in your head.

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    Ingenious: Robert Sapolsky

    The primatologist and neurologist talks turbulence—teens, stress, and the information age.

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    Your Brain Is On the Brink of Chaos

    Neurological evidence for chaos in the nervous system is growing.

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    Mirror Neurons Are Essential, but Not in the Way You Think

    A “brainbow”: neurons labels with fluorescent tags, in this case, from a mouse.Stephen J. Smith via Wikipedia In his 2011 book, The Tell-Tale Brain, neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran says that some of the cells in your brain are of a special variety. He calls them the “neurons that built civilization,” but you might know them […]

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    An Expert’s Guide to Celebrity Faces

    The way we process faces means that symmetry is only part of the story.

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    On the Last Day of 2013, Let’s Predict the Science of 2014

    Fluorescent-labeled neurons in a mouse hippocampus made visible using the new CLARITY technique.Kwanghun Chung & Karl Deisseroth, HHMI/Stanford Univ. It’s not our fault. Blame the theorists, explorers, experimenters, and inventors.  We at Nautilus try to keep on top of all the amazing new things happening in science, but there’s simply too much of it to […]

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    Emotional Renovations

    How your brain twists together emotion and place.

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    Sleep: When Brain Cells Shrink & Neuro Trash Is Flushed Away

    This image from a mouse brain shows the fluid channels (purple) and glia cells (green) flush out the brain’s waste into blood vessels.Jeffrey Iliff1 and Maiken Nedergaard For humans, sleep is an absolute requirement for survival, almost on par with food and water. When we don’t get it, we not only feel terrible, but our […]

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    Decapitation, But Not Cannibalism, Might Transmit Memories

    Cross-section of a planarianJubal Harshaw via Shutterstock Earlier this year, scientists published a bizarre finding: A decapitated flatworm that grows a new head seems to retain memories from its old one. Weird—but not even close to the weirdest finding in the annals of flatworm memory research. Half a century ago, experiments by James McConnell the […]

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    Safecracking the Brain

    What neuroscience is learning from code-breakers and thieves.

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    Safecracking the Brain

    What neuroscience is learning from code-breakers and thieves.

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    One Big Question Not Answered by Today’s Nobel Winners

    Earlier today three US-based researchers shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research on vesicles, special structures that ferry all kinds of molecules around biological cells, and are fundamental to those cells’ functioning. Their findings provide some key background for our understanding of life—information that will fill textbooks for decades—though they lack […]

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    “Pop, Pop, Pop.” She Heard Her Brain in Action

    Brain-computer interfaces are opening new possibilities.

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    Finding the Concept That Is Jennifer Aniston in My Brain

    Are your neurons thrown off by this photo? Shutterstock Most of us have an uneasy love/hate relationship with celebrity culture. No matter how much we try to pretend we’re above it all, celebrities somehow seep into our consciousness, whether it’s Miley Cyrus’s cringe-inducing twerking at the VMAs, or our enduring affection for the ensemble cast […]

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    Ingenious: Robert Burton

    What we can—and cannot—learn from brain science.

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    Fame Is a Magnet that Reveals Our Weak Hold on Reality

    This past July the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy. An international press corps was parked in front of the entrance of the hospital for over four weeks before that. The UK’s Daily Mail interviewed a woman who’d flown in from New Zealand to camp out in front of Buckingham Palace awaiting the […]

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    The Brain on Trial

    It’s not fair to ask jurors to vote on a death penalty.

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    Depth Perception & Death Prevention: Babies’ Visual Instinct

    We humans take a lot for granted. Pizza delivery, email, smartphones, dishwashers. All of this occurs in the background, making our lives simpler. None of it requires any explicit effort. Our minds also do a lot of subconscious work that we take for granted. Have you ever seriously thought about how you know that the […]

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    Why Do We Get Transported by Stories We Know Are False?

    In Jasper Fforde’s lighthearted “Thursday Next” series of books, people can use a “prose portal” to enter the world of a book, to change the plot or kidnap a character. The prose portal is an imaginative metaphor for a familiar experience: feeling taken away by a narrative, sucked into a good book so that we […]

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    When Photographers Are Neuroscientists

    Artists who manipulate photos capture the ambiguity—and beauty—of vision itself.

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    When Photographers Are Neuroscientists

    Artists who manipulate photos capture the ambiguity—and beauty—of vision itself.

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    Composing Your Thoughts

    Music that upsets expectations is what makes your gray matter sing.

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    The Mystery of Human Uniqueness

    What, exactly, makes our biology special?

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    Where Science and Story Meet

    We make sense of the world through stories—a deep need rooted in our brains.